New stats tell when to brace for C.O. eclipse traffic jams

Peak travel times laid out; day-after crunch seen

Eclipse travel to CO predicted

BEND, Ore. - In just one month, a million visitors are expected to head to Oregon to view the first total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. in nearly 40 years. Predicting travel patterns has been tricky and estimates have fluctuated, but new information shows what to expect as far as peak travel in and out of Central Oregon.

"This is the best information so far that we've had,” ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said Friday.

Deschutes County Emergency Services has been collecting data through surveys of confirmed travelers.

"Before now, what we've been doing is trying to count up the available hotel motel spaces and campsites and kind of extrapolate from there,” Murphy said. “This is from people who will actually be visiting, and it's minus the folks that are here locally.”

The findings show a majority of arriving travelers will be spread out the Thursday to Sunday before the Monday, Aug. 21 eclipse, with 18 percent of people coming Thursday, 21 percent Friday, 25 percent Saturday and 19 percent Sunday.

Murphy said that's good news, because it will be a lot easier on both agencies and locals when the influx doesn’t hit all at once.

The departure timing could be more tricky.

On Monday, 39 percent of people are expected to leave, and another 42 percent plan to depart the area on Tuesday.

"You know, there's a saturation point for the highway, and Tuesday will probably be the day we see it tested to its max,” Murphy said.

He said as many as 80,000 people could be on the road that day. But knowing it ahead of time is a great tool.

"Locals who are now aware that Tuesday is going to be the big day for leaving can plan their work day around that, or their shopping activities or whatever it might be,” he said. 

To learn plenty more about the eclipse, keep tabs on KTVZ.COM's Eclipse 2017 page.

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